Land Without People for People Without Land
By David Stea
This week’s Occupy presentation focuses on several aspects of the lives of indigenous (“native”) peoples, of whom there are 50-60 million in the Western Hemisphere; 90 percent in Latin America. They constitute 13 percent of the entire Latin American population and approximately 40 percent of the rural peoples. Estimates of Mexico’s indigenous population run as high as 14.7 million, in 62 ethnic groups. The indigenous peoples of Peru constitute almost 30 percent of the total population, and there are over 60 percent in Guatemala, falling into 24 ethnic groups. There are three to five million indigenous peoples in the US, scattered among 326 reservations speaking 56 languages.
Mon, Nov 30, 1pm
“Land Without People for
People Without Land”
Hotel Quinta Loreto
A substantial proportion of the indigenous people are nomadic or seminomadic. This talk will touch briefly upon the nature of contemporary vertical and horizontal nomadism as well as transhumance. The recent history of two traditionally nomadic peoples will then be compared: the Navajo of the US and the Bedouin of Israel. We will show two short films: one on the Navajo nation and the other on the Bedouin peoples. Both groups have been subjected to substantial governmental pressures over the past 150 years, from the time of the American Civil War and of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Both groups have experienced interference in traditional ways of life: livestock reduction programs, displacement, relocation, sedentarization, proletarianization, and resource extraction. The populations in arid and semiarid regions are comparable, but the land of the Navajo nation in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah is almost five times that of the Negev, where most Bedouin are located.
The progress of both countries—the United States and Israel—toward a globally integrated “market economy” is marked in the Navajo case by oil drilling and coal and uranium mining. In the Bedouin case, ongoing national and multinational efforts include the extraction of phosphates and (in the future) uranium, and of shale oil from the northern Negev, accompanied by disputes over gas deposits, including those offshore. Similar processes with similar impacts are felt by hundreds of indigenous societies, both sedentary and nomadic, from the humid tropics through arid lands to the far north, throughout the world. In some cases there has been substantial resistance; in others, complete subjugation.
This session and the discussion will be led by Dr. David Stea, a research associate with the Center for Global Justice, whose acquaintance with the Bedouin straddled two decades, and who has been working with Navajos since the early 1970s. All our events are free.